Everyone who comes to Larchmont falls in love with its charm and neighborly scale. But what many don’t realize is that the effort that goes into creating and preserving that feeling is, to a great extent, the result of efforts of the Larchmont Boulevard Association (LBA), the non-profit all-volunteer organization of businesses and professional firms and property owners located mainly on Larchmont Blvd. between 1st Street and Melrose Avenue.
Organized in 1965, by Larchmont Chronicle publishers Jane Gilman and Dawne Goodwin, the mission of the LBA is to promote “our special village within our big city.” The LBA has organized many of the activities we associate with Larchmont’s charm and neighborliness. This includes the annual Larchmont Family Fair, on the Sunday before Halloween each year, and which lines the street with booths from local schools, churches and other non-profits, and features a costume contest, a petting zoo, and many other delights.
The Larchmont Blvd. Holiday Open House, happening Saturday this year along with Small Business Saturday, was started by former LBA president Bob Landis, who sent engraved invitations to all his customers, inviting them into the store for cookies and free gift wrap. Other retailers, like Natalie’s Needlepoint and Kiplinger’s Flowers, joined in and the Holiday Open House grew, eventually spilling out of Landis and into the parking lot, under a tent with Santa Claus down the street in the patio courtyard at 107 N Larchmont. One year, Dr. Tim Gogan, dentist and another former president of the LBA, told the Buzz he hired 20 neighborhood teenagers and decorated every store front with cedar garland.
The Family Fair used to take place on the Friday of Labor Day Weekend from 4 -10pm after all the shops closed, according to Dr. Gogan. The idea came from Dawne Goodwin, founding publisher of the Larchmont Chronicle, who thought it would be a great way for all the local schools and charities to showcase their organizations and raise funds. The LBA teamed up with the local Boy Scouts and organized a rummage sale that raised all the funds to buy the rides. Shop owners would provide the electricity, and Larchmont was transformed into a fairgrounds, complete with a costume parade. But times changed and kids got rowdier on weekday evenings, so the LBA decided to move the event to the daytime, on the last Sunday on October.
For many years, Larchmont was filled with shops and services such as dry cleaners, plumbers, hardware and grocery stores, and the LBA organized events to promote the local businesses and bring customers to the street. In more recent years, recalls Joane Pickett, former LBA President and owner of Pickett Fences (which opened on Larchmont in 1994), the LBA brought the Farmer’s Market to Larchmont on Sundays, starting in 2002, as a way to bring more life to the street at a time when most of the stores were closed on Sundays.
Over the years, Larchmont has changed…but the LBA and its members are carrying on the tradition of personal service and neighborliness. In collaboration with the Larchmont Business Improvement District (BID), the street is once again decorated for the holidays. Saturday’s Holiday Open House is our chance to show our support for our local small business and enjoy “our special village within our big city.”